Home Renovation?

With the start of a new year, many homeowners are considering renovating their properties to add value.

The question is: How do you plan to finance it? With home prices recovering, many homeowners are tapping their home’s equity to pay for projects.

But is that always a good idea?

I found an interesting, and relevant, article on CNN Money called “5 things to consider before tapping your home for cash.” It provides some useful information and food for thought.

I know you’re busy, so I put together some of the key points from the article:

1. If you locked in an ultra-low rate in the past few years, a home equity loan could save you more money than refinancing.

2. The price you’ll pay up front to get a home equity loan is far cheaper than refinancing.

3. Refinancing your home starts your payment schedule over again (15 year, 30 year loan, etc.) whereas a home equity loan has it's own payment schedule leaving your current mortgage alone.

4. Using a home equity loan to increase the value of your home or increase your business value through further education can be smart. Using it to purchase a new car or go on vacation can be foolish.

5. Home equity loans are often adjustable, meaning there is a risk your payments will rise.

6. There can be tax benefits with a home equity loan (just as with your primary mortgage).

If you want some of the finer details from the article, you can read the whole thing here.

The article does a great job of weighing the pros and cons of borrowing against your home to finance home renovations.

If you are still on the fence about this form of financing, you can always give me a call. I’ve been in the business a long time, and I would love to go over your options with you.

December 2014 El Paso County Colorado Housing Market Stats

Following are statistics for the month of December 2014 for Colorado Springs and surrounding areas in El Paso County (new and existing single family and patio homes).

There is currently a 2.7 month supply of active inventory. 5.5 months is considered optimum and a balanced market.

- Listings Sold: 788 (November: 699)
- Median Sale Price: $225,000 (November: $220,000)
- Average Sale Price: $253,122 (November: $247,704)
- Average Days on Market: 95 (November: 89)
- Sale Price/List Price: 98.4% (November: 98.3%)
- Total Active Listings as of 12/31/14: 2,146 (11/30/14: 2,609)
- Median List Price: $275,000 (November: $279,900)
- Average List Price: $381,973 (November: $388,948)
- Pending Sales as of 12/31/14: 283; as of 11/30/14: 291

[This representation is based in whole or in part on information from the Pikes Peak Association of REALTORS, the Colorado Springs REALTOR Services Corp., or its PPMLS. Neither the Association, the RSC, nor the PPMLS guarantees or is in any way responsible for its accuracy. Data maintained by the PPMLS does not reflect all real estate activity in the market.]

Developers of Colorado Springs hotel and water park ready to break ground

Developers of Colorado Springs hotel and water park ready to break ground

Get Ready to Garage Sale

I realize it's January and thinking about a garage sale might seem a bit 'off season' for you, but it's never too early to start planning. Now is the time when you can be preparing for spring cleaning, setting aside things you know you want to sell and getting ready for good weather and a garage sale.

 A well-planned garage or yard sale can make room in your home, get rid of unused items and make some money but it needs some planning to be successful.

Start early to research and plan

Promotion is key

Display items attractively

Price items right

Organize checkout

Saturdays are generally the best day but there may be some exceptions.  Experienced garage-salers believe that a well-planned one-day event will do as well as a multi-day event.  Serious purchasers will look for the “new” sale and most people don’t come back multiple days.

Advertise in local newspapers and free online classified sites like craigslist.  If several families are going together for the sale, mention that in the ad; it will be a big draw.  Mention your bigger-ticket items like furniture, equipment and baby items.

Garage sale signs can be purchased or made at Staples, Fedex Office or Kwik Signs.  Signs need large lettering so they’re easy to read while people are driving. Most important info: Garage or Yard Sale, address, date and time.  Directional signs are also important.  Balloons and streamers to attract attention to the signs are very helpful.

Consider using the service Square so that you can take credit cards. The cost is 2.75% per swipe and can be done on your smartphone or iPad.  You’ll need to sign up at least two weeks in advance to receive your card reader. This is a very useful tool, because even with the fee you pay per swipe, you make a sale that you wouldn't otherwise make if people don't have enough cash on hand.

People will want to bargain; it’s the nature of the game.  Consider this strategy: less negotiations early in the sale and possibly, more toward the end of the sale.

Happy early spring cleaning!

Tips to Save Energy & Money

Saving energy in your home can be easier than you think. By completing these two energy-saving tasks, you may be surprised by the amount of money you can save.

Turn Down Your Thermostat
Did you know that you can reduce your home’s energy consumption by over 5% just by adjusting your thermostat down to 1 degree less? You won’t notice the difference in temperature but you will notice the difference in your savings come end of the month. A great thermostat to consider is Nest.

Lower Your Hot Water Temperature
If your water temperature is set too high (around 140ºF or higher), your water heater could waste anywhere from $36 to $61 annually in standby heat losses and more than $400 in demand losses. To avoid this, set your water heater thermostats to 120ºF. This temperature will also help slow mineral buildup and corrosion in your water heater and pipes.

Minimize Phantom Loads
The term “phantom load” refers to the energy that an appliance or electronic device consumes when it is not actually turned on. According to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), “In the average home, 75 percent of the electricity used to power home electronics is consumed while the products are turned off.” A report from the University of California Berkeley says that phantom loads account for about 6 percent of all national residential electricity consumption. You can eliminate phantom loads by unplugging appliances and electronics when you are not using them, or by plugging them into a power strip, and turning the strip off when they are not in use. Visit here for more information.

Seal Air Leaks
You should also look for any small cracks and gaps where air is leaking into and out of your home. Energy Star says that between improving insulation and sealing leaks, homeowners could potentially save 10 percent on their annual energy bill. If searching for leaks sounds like a daunting task, you can hire an energy auditor to assess your house and find problem areas.

Here's a list of 100 ways to save energy at home.

How a Paper Clip was Traded for a House

This isn't new news... but, I was fascinated when I read the true story about a man who started with one red paper clip and traded his way up until he owned a house. Have you read his story?